Houston, TX – A.J. Burnett pitched into the eighth inning and Starling Marte homered in his first major-league at-bat, helping Pittsburgh down Houston, 5-3, in the opener of a four-game series.
Burnett (12-3) served up two solo homers among four hits while fanning five over 7 1/3 innings. Joel Hanrahan survived a shaky final frame to earn his 30th save.
"The guys came out swinging," said Burnett, who was spotted a three-run lead before he ever took the mound. "It's always good to have that. It takes a little pressure off you."
Clint Barmes and Garrett Jones each added a two-run shot for the Pirates, who have won seven of nine overall.
Recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis prior to the game, Marte finished 2-for-4 in his pro debut. He became just the third Pirate to homer in his first plate appearance: Walter Mueller did it first on May 7, 1922 and Don Leppert was the last, on June 18, 1961.
Chris Johnson homered and drove in two for the Astros, who dropped their 10th straight game.
Dallas Keuchel (1-3) was dented for five runs and five hits over six full frames in defeat.
Johnson began the eighth with a solo shot to left, then Carlos Corporan added a one-out solo homer for a 5-2 game and Burnett exited for Brad Lincoln. He walked pinch-hitter Matt Downs but retired the next two batters to keep it a three-run spread.
Hanrahan walked Scott Moore with one down in the ninth, uncorked a wild pitch, and, after striking out J.D. Martinez, gave up an RBI single to Johnson. He let another wild one go that caused Johnson to move up to second, but Brian Bogusevic struck out swinging to end the contest.
Marte began the game by reaching the seats in left center on the first pitch of the night from Keuchel, and after a one-out single from Andrew McCutchen, Jones drilled a pitch to right for a 3-0 game.
"I figured he'd take a strike to see what I got," said Keuchel of Marte's home run. "I never thought he was going to hit a home run the first pitch of the game, that's a career first for me. I tip my hat to him, he put a good swing on it."
Rod Barajas walked to start the second and Barmes followed with another two- run shot to make it 5-0.
Marte became the 27th player in MLB history to homer on the first pitch he saw...Houston has dropped 23 of its last 25 games and sports the worst record in the majors at 34-66...Hanrahan tied Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the major- league lead in saves...Burnett picked up his first win over the Astros since April 25, 2002 when he took the mound for the Marlins...Prior to the game, the Astros recalled pitcher Armando Galarraga from Triple-A Oklahoma City, while the Bucs optioned outfielder Gorkys Hernandez to Indianapolis.